Monday, July 12, 2010

"Summer Hours": a grandmother wants her kids and grandkids to let go of their past -- pretty progressive

Summer Hours” (“L’heure d’ete”) from MK2 and IFC films, directed by Olivier Assayas, would be a good film for an AP French class, maybe in 12th grade before the kids go away to college, without the English subtitles, and without reference to imdb or this blog (for that matter), with the assignment to write a review. Is this film an example ofr "French" impressionism?

Indeed, the subject matter of the film – subtle innuendos about family – is well for young adults to ponder. The film begins with kids running through woods in the countryside south of Paris, and it looks hot and humid, all right. It ends with a couple of the kids as emerging teens, looking at their grandmother’s house that is to be sold, after all.

In the meanwhile, matriarch Helene (Edith Scob) calls together her two grown sons and daughter and all the grandkids, from around the world (including China and New York). The oldest son, Frederic (Charles Berling) has stayed in France, become a professor, and written controversial (probably conservative) books on economics leading to plenty of book-signing parties. She meets with him, and explains that she wants the kids to part with the house and most of the art collection, and get on with the lives they have built for themselves.

About one-third the way through the film, she has somewhat unexpectedly passed away (maybe she sensed it), and the siblings then deal with their relationships with one another as adults, no longer with access to childhood symbols. It’s probably less of a deal to the grandkids (one of them gets busted for pot). Yet in some families, it’s the opposite that happens; some parents want to keep adult kids bound to the values of the past.

IFC site for the film is here.

IFC First Take trailer on YouTube:

No comments: